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usic itself is and has always been more than a form of entertainment for humanity. Artists find music as a way to express their emotions and for those who listen, a way to amplify or reduce emotions. The first forms of music were used as war sounds by the Vikings to motivate and encourage the warriors. The first forms of music that were used for entertainment can be found during the pre-medieval era.

An older era for Music

However, it has been recently discovered that music as a form of entertainment goes back many years back, to be more exact, around 3400 years ago. This discovery has been made from a piece of paper from the Syrian city of Ugarit. Professor Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, who works as the curator at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology at Berkeley, spent fifteen years deciphering the clay tablets which were uncovered and excavated in Syria by a French archaeologist in the early 1950s. The tablets had been confirmed to be formed “a complete cult hymn and is the oldest preserved song with notation in the world.”

Professor Kilmer from the University of California, alongside her colleagues Richard L. Crocker and Robert Brown, has worked to create a record of the song found on the discovered tablet, which had been named “Sounds from Silence,” in the thought of a more silent period in time where music was unknown of by most. They managed to do this by matching the number of syllables in the text of the song with the number of notes indicated by the musical notations.

With the approach taken, Professor Kilmer was able to define harmony rather than a melody of single notes. I mean, the chances that the number of syllables would match the notation numbers without intention are incredible. This extensive research has revolutionized the concept of the origin of music and western culture. Here is how the song sounds in a more modern recreation.

Does music go further back?

It is presumed that this song was sung using the flute, which is considered to be also the oldest instrument. What is also very interesting and makes the age of this song questionable is that the origin of flutes has been estimated to go back as far as 67,000 years ago. It is imperative to mention that flutes had many different uses in ancient times and various ancient civilizations, such as calling animals, warning leaders, and many more.

The earliest form of flutes is estimated to be over 30,000 years old (Source: Research Gate)

So how far is the origin of music go? Is the flute truly the first instrument? How many lost civilizations could have created even more miraculous sounds with innovative instruments for the time? We will never know, but the origin of western music has always been a big and important topic, as music is not only part of our culture but also part of our lifestyle.

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